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2017-12

The 6 SEO ranking factors you need to know

by Rick Elenbaas
 | 
18 December 2017
The 6 SEO ranking factors you need to know
Can your customers find you online? We delve into the SEO ranking factors that can boost your business in search.

When it comes to online search, having a website that is optimised for search engine indexation and easy for users to find  should be one of your top priorities. But, how do you know which factors Google favours most when it comes to indexing your website?
 
Just like trying to improve your golf swing, we look at which factors you should be focusing on to increase your visibility online.
 

1. Content

Quality content is the foundation that supports all your other SEO efforts.  And it’s pretty important to how your site is indexed by search engines. Infact, it’s one of the top three ranking factors according to Google.  
 
Good content is logical and useful, uses your audience’s language, answers their important questions, and is relevant. Consider how Vice has used machine learning to optimise their content for the local market.
 
Companies must consider everything from your ‘About Us’ copy to all your product descriptions, and your organisation’s blog. High-quality, accurate, and informative content is a critical part of a positive user experience (UX). Great content helps Google’s content crawlers identify your website as useful and relevant. This, in turn, boosts your business’s rank in search results.
 

2. Backlinks

Organic backlinks are when other websites link back to your site based on a page’s merit and value. Creating regular quality content can help generate backlinks, boosting your website’s page authority in Google.
 
Consider the example of an online women’s retailer that produces engaging blogs on the latest fashion trends. When fashion bloggers or media link back to its content, it helps Google establish the business as knowledgeable and an authority in the industry.
 
The more relevant and high quality sites organically linking to your content, the greater the influence on your website’s search ranking.

The Digital Story eBook
 

3. User experience

UX focuses on the overall experience your website has on potential customers. Ideally, it’s easy to use, easy to navigate, and easy to understand. This means it’s functional, well designed, reliable, and allows people to perform essential tasks, like find information or make purchases without issue. Done well, your website’s UX can contribute to an improved search ranking.
 
Another important factor in UX is A/B testing (comparing two versions of an approach or design). Why are people not pressing certain buttons or clicking links? Why do they leave the site in the middle of purchasing a product? A/B testing allows you to measure and test how simple changes can affect transactions or journeys, and provides you with accurate data to make considered changes as a result.
 

4. Mobile-first design

According to a 2016 report by Deloitte, around 84% of Australians own a smartphone. Over half (51%) of owners check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up, and almost the same amount (45%) check them within 15 minutes of going to bed.
 
This shift reflects a broader trend that saw Google move to a mobile-first index late last year. Google’s ranking systems previously used the desktop version of a page’s content to assess its relevance to users, it now indexes pages based on their mobile readiness first.
 
A mobile site that is accessible and provides a positive user experience is central to addressing Google’s latest ranking guidelines. This includes having a responsive web design that offers users a consistent experience across all devices.
 

5. Load speed

Closely related to mobile-first design is load speed. If your site is slow to load, you automatically lose points with Google.
 
A DoubleClick by Google study, which evaluated more than 10,000 mobile domains, found that more than half of all mobile site visits are abandoned if the page doesn’t load within three seconds. The study also found that sites that took five seconds to load versus 19 seconds had 70% longer average sessions, 35% lower bounce rates, and 25% higher viewability. It determined that file size, server requests, and element order (i.e.content and ads) were the three key factors to slow load speed.
 

6. Social media

While there isn’t yet any waterproof evidence of a direct connection between a business’s social media activity and its ranking in search, it can be a contributing factor – considering how many people find, engage with, and review businesses on social media. If a business’s website or content is being shared or is trending on social media, there is potential for that activity to influence its ranking on search. In other words, it would be a strange if popular content shared across various social media platforms was hard to find in search engines.
 
An ongoing focus on these six SEO ranking factors, and staying abreast of Google’s evolving algorithm updates,should help your business’s website achieve a high rank in search.
 
Get in touch with Salmat to find out more about our SEO solutions.

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About the author
Rick Elenbaas
SEO Operations Manager

Rick Elenbaas is the SEO Operations Manager for Salmat with more than four years of digital agency experience, working for strong brands in competitive markets across Australia. Specialising in technical SEO operations, Rick is passionate about continuously improving and automating processes to accelerate the optimisation and organic growth of his client's websites. He has also strong web analytic abilities and advanced knowledge of web based technologies, including Wordpress.

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